Foxconn is, at least publicly, taking a beating from its clients - whose ranks include Apple, Nokia, Sony, Nintendo and more. Today Nintendo, Nokia and Sony announced in separate statements that they are conducting investigations into reports concerning a number of suicides that have occurred at several Foxconn facilities in China. Companies like Nintendo and Sony use Foxconn to manufacture products and components cheaply. The company owned by Hon Hai Precision Industries employs approximately 430,000.
Some reports have suggested that many of these companies are aware of the low pay, pressure, and bad working conditions that employees of Foxconn face; after all auditors and other company officials frequently check on production quotas and other matters that affect their supply chains.. Earlier in the week Apple, Dell, and Hewlett-Packard issued statements saying that they take working conditions "seriously" and plan to do their own investigations into these matters.
Even while companies line up promising to conduct investigations, suicide attempts continue to happen at Foxconn's factories: On Friday there were reports of yet another attempted suicide - by some accounts the 16th since the beginning of the year. Earlier in the week, following a media tour intended to show happy, safe workers, a worker reportedly jumped to his death. Hon Hai has been accused of forcing employees to work long hours for low pay under stressful and sometimes violent conditions.
The company's solution to the problem? A promise to install "suicide nets" to discourage employees from jumping, and a 20 percent wage increase to "some workers." Delightful.
I'd like to tell you that a company like, Apple, as an example, is new to this sort of thing but it is not. Read this 2006 Ars Technica article on Foxconn, Apple, iPods and abused workers. Four years later and they continue to use Foxconn.